IdeaNova

IdeaNova is a software company with a decade of experience in IT security and secure video streaming.  Inplay secure streaming pioneered distribution and integration of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies for modern Inflight Entertainment systems (IFE) and the Media and Entertainment industry. Their services and products are designed to reduce the complexities of delivering security solutions via attractive, reliable, state of the art technology to their clients. Inplay secure streaming delivers ready to use comments and end-to-end IFE software on passengers’ own devices or inseat displays. IFExpress had the opportunity ask Juraj Siska, CEO of IdeaNova, about some of their developments since our last interview last March.

  1.  Tell us about your Inplay Live TV player – what is unique about it?
    IdeaNove: Inplay Live is not only a player but a complete infrastructure to support streaming of live content to aircraft.  It is a solution that we have been working on for several years and while it leverages our existing Inplay components (e.g. the player as you mentioned), it provides us and our customers with a completely new set of features.  These are the features that take advantage of network available on connected aircraft to deliver live TV in a much more flexible, scalable and affordable way than what we see today.
  2. How does your new 3D player work? And any launch customers for it yet?
    IdeaNova: Our Inplay VR (virtually reality) has 360 view capabilities and to our knowledge is the only player that can play DRM content in VR.  This player has the same set of features and capabilities as our traditional players, but is capable of displaying secure, encrypted content on any VR device.  We are talking to several customers about this product.
  3. What is unique about the new IFE Portal that was a finalist for the 2019 APEX award?
    IdeaNova: Our IFE portal has been shortlisted to be among the three best IFE products this year. With this product, airlines can take advantage of rapid deployment of entertainment features on any IFE hardware.  Our portal provides massive customization features and is designed with the passenger in mind.  We wanted to reduce the obstacles that passengers have to go through when accessing IFE content.  With this main design principle, we built an IFE portal that is available in connected or disconnected mode, it takes passenger only one click to watch a movie and we also reduced the effort it takes to discover content.  With these convenience features we have not lost track of accessibility and security.  The portal and the player make it easier to enjoy movies for people with disabilities and is available in multiple languages.  On the back end, we have increased security of our DRM servers to be in compliance with new Apex specs without sacrificing user convenience when discovering and playing movies and TV shows.
  4. Any other new products or features coming out (esp. any submissions for the Crystal Cabin awards?)
    IdeaNova: We must constantly innovate so our company can remain relevant in this market.  With respect to the Crystal Cabin submission, we are especially proud of our partnership with North Central College, which is a university within a stones throw from our office.  This partnership allowed us to submit under the college category – a feature that we believe enhances our IFE portal in a more socially interactive way and makes passengers become part of a community of travelers.
  5. Anything happening on the DRM front – i.e., any new security provisions coming out for HDR or 4K Ultra content?
    IdeaNova: There are a lot of new changes, especially as a result of APEX spec 0415 v2.  As the studios are releasing higher and higher quality content to airlines, their requirements for content security are increasing.  These requirements can range from software adjustment, introduction of tamper proof components, which by the way could be very expensive, to changes in the way we build IFE hardware.
    Overall, these changes are necessary as they improve the security posture of IFE systems.  Here at IdeaNova we have recently made a major breakthrough with how we handle encryption using available IFE hardware.  This breakthrough allowed us to keep the cost of  the IFE software down while meeting studio requirements for higher quality content.

KID Systeme

The intelligent and smart cabin is a key element on Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator 777 flying test bed and it is taking new technologies out of the lab and into the air – and to Frankfurt airport (Germany) on static display on November 19th and 20th. “Intelligent & Smart Cabin” (i+sCabin) is a research project for the definition of standards for connected cabin features that has been launched in 2018, comprising the industrial partners KID-Systeme, Bühler Motor, Diehl Aviation, Jeppesen, and Zodiac Aerospace (a Safran company).

The i+sCabin is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, which has identified the research project as an important component of their aviation research program, endorsing the prioritization of the project with a 3.9 million Euro grant.

With the Boeing Company and Etihad Engineering (part of the Etihad Aviation Group) this program has found premium sponsors which secures an international footprint for the achievements of this project. Prestigious university partners (the Baden- Württemberg Cooperative State University and the Hamburg University of Technology) are equally associated partners of the project as well.

Boeing’s 2019 ecoDemonstrator program includes connected cabin technologies in which the i+sCabin is a key part of 777 test bed. Flying test installations on board Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator 777 will allow the i+sCabin team to test the principles of cabin communications standards, wireless communications sensor networks and smart functions of galleys very early in the envisioned environment. Also, the team will be able to collect data for predictive health monitoring, making the real-flight environment a valuable addition to the project’s test schedule.

i+sCabin is progressing well on schedule since its launch in 2018, with the main milestone of implementation and testing of the first version of the cabin communication standard expected towards the end of 2019 and in the course of 2020, and project finalization set for 2021.

As part of the ecoDemonstrator’s flight test program, Boeing is bringing the aircraft to Germany’s biggest airport in Frankfurt for a two-day program on November 19th and 20th. In addition, on November 20th the Etihad Aviation Group will invite to bilateral meetings between UAE and German representatives in order to discuss new future projects. The technology mission of Boeing’s 2019 ecoDemonstrator program will be presented on both days to government officials, industry representatives and STEM students to help inspire the next generation in aerospace leadership.”


Panasonic Avionics

Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic Avionics) named Ken Sain as chief executive officer. He succeeds Hideo Nakano, who has served as Panasonic Avionics CEO since 2017 and as deputy CEO prior to that.  Nakano will now serve as Special Advisor for Panasonic Avionics.

Sain, who most recently served as vice president of Digital Solutions and Analytics for Boeing Global Services and as CEO of Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen, will join Panasonic Avionics on December 2, 2019.

“We are excited to welcome Ken to the Panasonic team,” said Michael Moskowitz, chairman and CEO of Panasonic Corporation of North America, the parent company of Panasonic Avionics. “His entrepreneurial spirit and proven track record in aviation will undoubtedly accelerate Panasonic’s customer-centric innovation and the digital transformation journeys of its airline customers.”

Hideo Nakano, chief executive officer of Panasonic Avionics, said, “Throughout his career, Ken has demonstrated tremendous leadership in change management and business growth. This proven legacy of success, combined with his expertise in developing and launching inflight digital solutions, will no doubt help accelerate our mission to make flying an experience everyone looks forward to.”

“Panasonic Avionics created the aviation industry’s first inflight entertainment solution 40 years ago and became the market leader through continuous innovation,” said Ken Sain. “I’m both honored and excited to join the talented Panasonic team to build upon this success and redefine the passenger experience of the future with our airline customers.”

Throughout his 25-year career, Sain has developed a broad mix of cross-functional leadership experience.  He is recognized as a passionate, customer-focused, aviation technology business leader with deep expertise in airline operations and maintenance.

Sain spent the last 14 years of his career with Boeing in various roles including strategy, technical engineering services and digital solutions.  In his most recent role leading Digital Solutions and Analytics, he oversaw significant growth in Boeing’s customer-facing digital solutions portfolio, using agile software development to launch new products and cloud-based solutions for airline and business aviation customers around the world.

Prior to Boeing, Sain was a principal with global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney.  For over ten years, he specialized in business strategy, operations and top-line growth for major airlines, airline alliances and travel technology providers.

Sain holds a Master of Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Northwestern University.  After graduating from Northwestern, Sain was part of a small team to found Midway Airlines and subsequently served the airline in operations, market planning and as Director of Marketing.


Inmarsat

Generation Z (Gen Z – The LSE defines Generation Z as born between 1997 – 2012) are last-minute spenders when planning trips, presenting an opportunity for airlines to revolutionize inflight e-commerce and take revenue from elsewhere in the customer journey. New research from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), commissioned by Inmarsat Aviation, suggests that by 2028, Gen Z passengers will spend an average of $26 on travel purchases while on their flight. Generation Z is forecast to become the largest group of airline flyers globally within the next decade, with 1.2 billion flying each year by 2028 (Sky High Economics – Chapter Three: Capitalizing on Changing Passenger Behavior in a Connected World). The LSE estimates that this consumer group currently spends a collective $3.6 billion in items and services in the weeks leading up to a trip and upon arrival at their destination. These findings underscore a significant opportunity for airlines to shift spending onboard and to take a proportion of the revenue with an e-commerce model that supports the ‘last-minute’ approach of today’s ‘digital-first’ passengers. The research analyzed purchasing decisions made during three key phases of the customer journey before a holiday: more than a week before; in the days before; and upon arrival. It finds that Gen Z is the most likely of all generations to delay buying products and services for their trip until the days before they fly. While currently only one in ten passengers make an inflight duty-free purchase when they fly, there is a significant opportunity for airlines to monetize the growing trend for last-minute spending. According to the LSE, 70% of Millennials and Gen Z passengers indicate that they would delay arrangements for their trip until their flight if they knew that a reliable Wi-Fi connection would be available, and the necessary delivery infrastructure was in place (LSE Interviews 2017-2019).


OTHER NEWS

Editor’s Note: Next week we will have highlight coverage of the news from Dubai, including information relating to Airbus and Boeing – so stay tuned!

Deep knowledge of the media and entertainment industries
Extensive products, marketing and commercial operations experience

Los Angeles, CA | April 29, 2019– Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (ENT) (“Global Eagle,” the “Company” or “we”), a leading provider of media, content, connectivity and data analytics to markets across air, sea and land, today announced that Leslie Ferraro has been nominated for election to its Board of Directors at its 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders on June 24, 2019 (the “Annual Meeting”). The Company also announced that, after six years of distinguished service, Board members Jeff Sagansky and Edward L. Shapiro will retire from its Board at the expiration of their current term at the Annual Meeting.

Ms. Ferraro brings extensive products, marketing and media and entertainment experience from her 18 years with Disney, including as President of Disney Consumer Products, Executive Vice President of Global Marketing, Sales and Travel Operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and Co-Chair of Consumer Products and Interactive Media for the Walt Disney Company.  She previously served on the board of directors for Hong Kong Disneyland Resort from 2010 to 2015 and currently serves on the board of directors for Edelman Financial Engines, LLC and Save-A–Lot, Inc. Prior to Disney, Leslie held various positions at McCann-Erickson, Johnson & Johnson and SmithKline Beecham.

“We are thrilled to nominate a leader of Leslie’s caliber for election to our Board,” said Jeff Leddy, Executive Chairman of Global Eagle and Chairman of the Board.  “As a travel and media executive with global experience, Leslie brings deep marketing and operational focus, having led Disney’s Consumer Products business and Co-Chaired their Consumer Products and Interactive Media business. Leslie will bring significant leadership perspective and capabilities as we execute our profitable growth agenda. We want to thank Mr. Sagansky and Mr. Shapiro for their significant contributions and invaluable insights to our strategy, culture and transformation during their six-year tenures on Global Eagle’s Board.”

March 29, 2019– Flame Distribution is launching over 240 hours of new content this spring ahead of Seatrade Cruise Global in Miami and APEX Multi Media Market in Dublin. The varied slate acquired from around the world spans genre from factual, lifestyle & reality, kids to documentary.

Some of the highlights include Seven Ages of Elvis (Raydar Media & Fireball TV), Sky Arts’ highly acclaimed documentary looking, forty years on from his death, at the legacy of Elvis Presley through the lens of seven key stages of his life.

The Kimberley Cruise (Mint Pictures) takes slow TV enthusiasts across the 1001 nautical miles of rugged coastline between Broome and Darwin in Australia’s north-west, following the route of Muslim traders, Japanese pearlers, European explorers, pirates and refugees.

Appetite for Adventure! (The Posh One Studios) is a hybrid lifestyle series that blends cooking, adventure, fashion and travel!

From the kind of strange to the just plain bizarre, one-off documentary America’s Most Unusual Festivals(Moshman Productions) explores the craziest annual celebrations that the USA has to offer.

Science series The Curious Mind (Ruckus Media) explores the miracles of the human mind with the help of Baby X, one of the most advanced Artificial Intelligence models on the planet.

Documentary Iceland: In Search of the Eight Legged Horse (Bacchus Films) explores the link between Odin’s mythological eight legged horse and its Icelandic four legged ancestor.

Popular returning titles include long running travel series Getaways (Waddell Media) which take viewers around the world to experience the highlights of popular holiday destinations.

The second series of travel programme My Greek Odyssey (The Rusty Cage) skips from island to island, taking in the sites of Greece’s Northern Aegean and Western Cycladic.

In Billionaire Wonderland (Waddell Media), Sherlock star Yasmine Akram visits the very different playgrounds of the super-rich – New York & the Hamptons, the Cote d’Azur, Mallorca & Ibiza, Dubai and Los Angeles.

Thomas Gould, VP Content Sales, Worldwide Transport & Digital at Flame Distribution, who will be attending both Seatrade Cruise Global and APEX Multi Media Market, commented:  “Flame is excited to bring another diverse slate of content from around the world to Transport buyers worldwide.  We know that our clients will love the new content we have on offer as well as the returning series which perform so well with global audiences.”

Martillac, France | March 29, 2019–

Beyond plain Inflight Entertainment

In less than 6 years, PXCom’s flagship end-to-end solution, XPLore by PXCom, widely enables airlines and their partners to manage any kind of content material regardless of the hardware platform. Additionally, XPLore by PXCom delivers natively-integrated editorial content, sponsored content, engaging passengers throughout the entire journey (pre-, in- and post-flight) in a consistent way via various channels (mobile, web, and of course IFE/C).

Thanks to such cutting-edge technology, that can be integrated on the existing hardware, the airlines can now benefit from a comprehensive Inflight Services platform, serving both the passengers and the airline crew, up-in-the-air as well as on-the-ground. Such services are dedicated to reducing IFE/C-involved costs, generating direct and indirect ancillary revenues, whilst elevating the passengers experience.

PXCom is excited to launch its new 360° consulting offering to the IFE/C industry at Hamburg.

Relying on its success stories and the expertise developed through the large variety of managed projects, PXCom now offers airlines the only platform-agnostic one-stop- shop experience. From a 3-day audit focused on the project’s very early stages, to the daily IFE/C project management once rolled out, airlines are supplied with a holistic approach.

“At PXCom we don’t claim having the full range of expertise internally”, mentions Cyril JEAN, PXCom’ CEO and co-founder, “However, we federate more than 40 partners ranging from hardware testing to passengers marketing. Thanks to that, our customers benefit from independent consulting of the utmost value, from very specific topics, to a full project management support, enabling them to take the best decisions meeting their expectations, requirements and constraints.”

Meet PXCom at AIX Hamburg on #3C30B in the IFEC zone

Before we get started on IdeaNova’s new content security solution for aircraft entertainment data we should tell our readers that as inflight entertainment content is getting to be higher quality, as you might guess, movie providers are getting more concerned about hacking and content copying because they have a lot invested in it. Thus, the value of secured DRM is a bigger deal, and security solutions are what will provide travelers with newly released content. So, along came IdeaNova and their solutions.

The above IFExpress rectangle is the graphic that accompanies IdeaNova’s press release (IdeaNova Technologies, Inc) for their new hardware secured server platform. We thought our readers might be interested in seeing a bit more about the company as you will see and hear more about them in the coming months. We asked their industry advisor, Rich Salter (who many of you know), and he helped us with understanding the next generation of software-based entertainment security. First, we wanted a bit more information for our readers and the company told us: “With new requirements put in place by studios for onboard DRM license servers, IdeaNova, a leader in Inflight Entertainment (IFE) and secure streaming, announced it is the first to implement these procedures with the launch of its Hardware Secured Server Platform. The new Secure DRM Server, which expands the integrity for all high-quality streaming security needs, can generate DRM licenses for video on demand or live streaming content.”

When we set out to explain this new ‘system security feature’ we contacted IdeaNova and asked a few questions. Rich Salter told IFExpress: “Those of you who have been at recent APEX TECH conferences may recall that Juraj Siska (IdeaNova’s CEO) and Phil Watson (Panasonic) have been reporting on their efforts to update our APEX document 0415 to add security provisions for premium content (e.g., HD and early window). IdeaNova is one of the very few companies in our IFE space that really understands the inner-workings of cloud content preparation (encoding/encryption/packaging content in the cloud), DRM license servers and onboard servers to stream the encrypted content to passengers, and secure video players (to decrypt the content and display it at the seat). The few companies that really understand this are key to all of us continuing to get HD and early window content at the seat. I originally met Juraj (IdeaNova) a couple years ago at a TECH conference. Then, I was referred to him again when I called a major DRM provider to get a referral to a consultant to help my previous company out of a DRM player jam (he fixed our DRM SW problem in about a week!)” Rich went on: “IdeaNova is HQ’d in Naperville, Illinois (just west of the windy city of Chicago), and they have employees around the world doing SW development. CEO Juraj Siska, (a recent IFEC BUZZ speaker) and CTO Janne Pelkonen and their SW team are experts at processing content for IFE in the cloud and providing onboard servers and players to keep early window content secure (i.e., keeping the studios happy and airlines happy in streaming content to passengers’ devices).”

We asked a few more questions and the company responded:

1. Why was the security software developed?

IdeaNova: “The new server is more secure. It provides security that studios are asking for. This is especially the case for content that falls into the category of ‘early window content’ or ‘higher quality content’.”

2. How it was developed?

IdeaNova: “It was developed internally by our engineers by redesigning our Inplay License Servers from scratch. When we learned that these new requirements were requested by studios and likely to be approved by APEX, we started with the development. The process was not simple, as we were learning new technology and had to deploy our software on platforms we were not familiar with up to that point.”

3. How about a little history of the company and its founder for our readers?

IdeaNova: “The company has a decade of history of building secure streaming systems (IFE) for aviation. Both Juraj Siska and Janne Pelkonen have several decades of experience in IT consulting.“

4. Well then, can you tell our readers what the content industry is saying about the design?

IdeaNova: “We are reviewing this solution with the studios and IFE vendors. Some of the IFE vendors are excited about this implementation and complemented us on the speed of deployment (we are the first in the industry) and ability to migrate it easily from the prior versions of our software.”

Juraj added: “Hardware secured” server means that DRM cryptographic operations and certain security functions are executed in special hardware, which is separate from the main processing unit, making it harder to compromise and almost impossible to replicate for malicious purposes. This is unlike traditional software implementations where software is much easier to copy.”

We then asked Rich what pieces of hardware and software IdeaNova provided, and he told IFExpress: “One clarification: the hardware chip on the motherboard is not IdeaNova’s chip; rather, it is an industry standardized chip. IdeaNova is the first to implement the chip’s use in the IFE market, as the studios are specifying that it be used for their latest HD and even higher quality content.

You can find more info on this here.

Trusted Platform Module (TPM, also known as ISO/IEC 11889) is an international standard for a secure cryptoprocessor, a dedicated microcontroller designed to secure hardware through integrated cryptographic keys. Stay Tuned on this one!


MORE NEWS

IFPL will be demonstrating their latest audio products that utilize Bluetooth technology at AIX Hamburg. A leader in passenger audio jack technology, IFPL deliver high quality sound and exceptional unit reliability giving an enhanced customer experience. The addition of Bluetooth technology to their ever-growing suite of products is an exciting development for the UK-based company.

IFPL’s Dave Phillips comments, “The growth of the range of products is in response to the growing demand from global airlines that rely on IFPL for innovative, design-led products. The key focus has been to reduce Customer Induced Damage (CID), therefore keeping the total cost of ownership low over the lifetime of the product.”

Phillips adds, “AIX 2019 is a fantastic opportunity to see the broad range of products that are now flying on many aircraft around the world and we look forward to showcasing our new Bluetooth technology Long Life audio jack.”
The following products will be available to view:

  • Bluetooth technology is now available in the highly reliable Long Life audio jack. This allows passengers to connect to a wireless or wired headset through the Bluetooth integrated unit.
  • Long Life is IFPL’s original audio jack range. Available in single, double and triple variants, the highly reliable audio jacks are designed to minimize CID. These jacks are incredibly robust and have been rigorously tested to over 100,000 insertions.
  • Rapid Fit audio jacks enable fast maintenance turn-arounds, achieved in less than 30 seconds with a cost-effective replacement cassette. This low-cost cassette contains the jack, allowing the key electronics to be protected in the main housing.
  • Integrated Noise Cancelling Audio Module (INCAM) cancels noise in the jack rather than the headset. This keeps the headset cost low and passengers can still enjoy the benefit of noise cancelling technology.
  • MagSignal innovative technology virtually eliminates CID thanks to the magnetic plug. A headset can be pulled from any angle without damaging the jack or the headset, significantly prolonging the life of both components.
    MARCH 2019
  • Push Through Pins causing audio failure are a thing of the past. Broken pins are simply pushed through to a collector at the back of the unit.

Visit AIX 2019 to experience the latest integrated Bluetooth audio products and innovative solutions at Booth 4B20.


THALES
Thales to lead EU project on drone geofencing technologies to secure future U-space Paving the way for future drone traffic increase, SESAR Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) is supporting the European Commission U-space initiative by researching and developing new services for safe, efficient and secure access to airspace of a large number of drones. The Geosafe project is part of the founding services for the development of drones operation. Engaged in the creation of solutions that will make tomorrow’s mobility possible, Thales will manage the project, supported by the competences of Aeromapper, AirMap, Atechsys and SPH Engineering.


AIRBUS
Airbus and China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS) signed a General Terms Agreement (GTA) covering the purchase by Chinese airlines of a total of 300 Airbus aircraft. The GTA was signed in Paris, France by Guillaume Faury, President of Airbus Commercial Aircraft and future Airbus CEO, and Jia Baojun, Chairman of CAS, in the presence of visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron. The GTA comprises of 290 A320 Family aircraft and 10 A350 XWB Family aircraft, reflecting the strong demand in all market segments including domestic, low cost, regional and international long haul from Chinese carriers. According to Airbus’ latest China Market Forecast 2018 to 2037, China will need some 7,400 new passenger and freighters aircraft in the next 20 years. It represents more than 19 percent of the world total demand for over 37,400 new aircraft.
By the end of January 2019, the in-service Airbus fleet with Chinese operators totaled some 1,730 aircraft, of which 1,455 are A320 Family, and 17 are A350 XWB Family planes.
(Editor’s Note: This is interesting timing.)

Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) has taken delivery of its first A380 at a special ceremony in Toulouse, becoming the 15th operator of the world’s largest passenger aircraft. The delivery ceremony was attended by ANA HOLDINGS President and CEO Shinya Katanozaka and hosted by Airbus CEO Tom Enders. ANA has ordered three A380s and will operate the aircraft on the popular route between Tokyo Narita and Honolulu from May 24. Each ANA A380 will feature a special livery depicting the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, also known as the Honu. The livery on the first aircraft is painted in blue, while the second will be green and the third orange.
ANA’s A380 is configured in a premium layout seating 520 passengers. The upper deck features eight suites in First Class, 56 Business Class seats that convert to fully flat beds and 73 Premium Economy seats. Economy Class is located on the main deck, where ANA offers a spacious layout seating 383 passengers, including 60 Couch Seats. The aircraft features ANA’s very latest in-flight entertainment systems, as well as full connectivity in all classes. Following today’s delivery to ANA, there are currently 232 A380s in service with 15 airlines worldwide, flying on 120 routes across the globe.


OTHER NEWS

The Spafax IQ Data Analytics Platform provides airlines with one view of their passenger engagement across all IFEC systems – an industry first.

London, UK | April 9, 2018– Global entertainment and media agency Spafax today announced the launch of Spafax IQ, a service designed to help airlines optimize their investment in entertainment across the passenger journey.

As aircraft connectivity rises and advertisers expect quality metrics for targeted campaigns, airlines are grappling with how to leverage the multitude of inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) data they have access to. Spafax is launching Spafax IQ to help solve this challenge for airlines.

The new data service provides insights in the following areas including but not limited to: IFEC content performance, passenger engagement with IFEC product, cost per engagement metrics and audience profiling.

Spafax Chief Executive Officer, Niall McBain said: “Spafax IQ is built to provide our airline clients with the insights they need to drive future IFEC product strategy and development. We use the latest research methodologies to build a detailed view of passenger behavior with entertainment while travelling and their expectations for richer, more valuable content experiences across every stage of the journey.”

Making its debut at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg this month, the Spafax IQ Data Analytics Platform is the first product to give airlines one view of their passenger engagement across all IFEC systems. Additionally, the platform helps airlines enhance the passenger experience through predictive analysis and increase revenue from advertising and brand partnerships.

Spafax Vice President of Entertainment, Henry Gummer said: “We’re always looking for ways to help our clients get the most of their entertainment investment. Our Spafax IQ Data Analytics Platform is designed to improve ROI for entertainment and provides an easy-to-use-tool that allows our clients to run reports and generate insights for evidence-driven content strategies.”

Spafax IQ also provide insights on content performance against airline competitors. The service includes regular analysis and support from a Spafax team of data experts.

Lufthansa Systems and castLabs are working on new technology that allows movies to be played in a browser on iOS devices

Raunheim, Germany | March 19, 2018– Lufthansa Systems, with its wireless BoardConnect IFE solution, and partner castLabs will soon enable browser-based playback of DRM-protected movies on iOS devices. DRM stands for Digital Rights Management and regulates the copy protection of digital movie files. This new technology means that passengers will no longer need to pre-install an app to enjoy movies and TV series on their own iOS devices while on board a flight.

The latest version of iOS from Apple, 11.2, allows protected video content to be played on smartphones and tablets in the Safari browser. Previously, this was only possible with the help of a separate player app. “If passengers can simply enjoy our entertainment offering on their own devices as they wish instead of having to install an app before departure, we believe this will increase the number of users,” said Jan-Peter Gaense, Head of Passenger Experience Products & Solutions at Lufthansa Systems. “This not only improves the passenger experience but also creates a larger potential target audience for the airline’s advertising activities and ancillary revenue opportunities. Airlines also benefit from greater usability, as they no longer need to offer a separate app for their entertainment offerings.”

Different operating systems and device suppliers currently use different encryption formats for video file copy protection. This means that the same content has to be stored in several different formats for all passengers to be able to access it regardless of which device they are using. The new DRMtoday Onboard solution from castLabs changes all that. castLabs uses the Common Media Application Format (CMAF), which has a secure encryption converter. This means that airlines will only need to store a single encrypted video file on the aircraft for each movie or TV series that can then be safely used on any device.

“We are delivering technology that makes DRM-protected movie files playable on all devices, and in BoardConnect, Lufthansa Systems has a proven and comprehensive IFEC solution with which to provide its entertainment offering – a perfect combination,” said Michael Stattmann, CEO of castLabs.

Both companies are currently working on integrating DRMtoday’s new functionality into BoardConnect to give passengers app-free access to onboard entertainment in the future. Passengers simply connect their own devices to the aircraft’s WiFi and are automatically taken to the airline’s entertainment homepage. From there, they can watch all content through their browser, regardless of their device’s model and operating system.

A variety of entertainment modules and useful digital services will be soon enjoyable by every passenger onboard Air Nostrum planes. Multiple contents will be at passenger’s fingertips, easily accessed through their own smart devices (phones, tablets and PCs).

Barcelona, Spain | February 28, 2018– Air Nostrum full fleet will soon count on Immfly’s digital services. The first CRJ aircraft equipped with Immfly’s service will take off this April. The airline based in Valencia is the first Spanish airline to install a plugged portable solution, ideal for its aircraft’s size and flight duration.

Immfly is 100% focus on providing airlines with the opportunity to digitally revolutionize the passenger in-flight experience, by designing, developing and managing the onboard digital services platform, always adapted to each airline’s needs and specifications.

Immfly identified the need for short-haul and low-budget airlines on having an economical and functional embedded onboard digital services. According to Air Nostrum aircraft’s dimensions, the portable plugged technology is a powerful solution and ideal to its airline profile. Avoids time-consuming installation ́s processes, that usually comes with fixed solutions due to the exigency of having the major Supplemental Type of Certification (STC), allows operating savings of not having to charge and swap batteries every day and involves fewer costs of installation. For all of these, Air Nostrum decided to adopt the embedded portable solution SkyCube.

With the plugged portable solution, Immfly together with Air Nostrum present “Air Nostrum Play”, the onboard digital services platform that will be available as a freemium model to its passengers. Through a set of access points installed inside the planes, passengers will be able to connect to “Air Nostrum Play” and enjoy multiple entertainment modules among other airline services.

“Air Nostrum is a highly important client for us, it will prove a new technology and with a new business model perfectly suited for regional carries. The airline performs predominantly short-flights and therefore the services will be more oriented to TV shows, series, press & news, due to the flight duration. Bringing this services to regional carriers is a before and after in the IFE industry”, explains Vincent Tomasoni, Chief Customer and Content officer at Immfly.

“We are very proud to announce this partnership with Immfly, which will allow our passengers to enjoy media contents during their flights, therefore enhancing their onboard experience. We feel especially satisfied for having developed, together with Immfly and Sirium, an innovative technological solution, hat endows our regional full fleet with the ideal technology to bring a variety of media content onboard our aircraft”, mentioned Juan Corral, the Commercial Director of Air Nostrum.

Time spent on a plane is no more synonymous of boredom.

Passengers onboard easyJet,Iberia Express, Volotea and XL Airways can now better enjoy the moment

of flying by reading about what to do and where to go to their final destination. Immfly’s onboard digital services platform provides downloadable travel guides, from hundred cities covered by the airline’s routes, available in several languages and formats.

Barcelona, Spain | January 23, 2018– Immfly’s onboard digital services platform is 100% dedicated to guaranteeing the passenger can get the most of its experience while flying. The onboard travel guides are a useful feature to anticipate plans and close decisions before landing. At the same time, it is a powerful place for cities increase its visibility and to raise awareness of the endless activities available to be there discovered and explored.

Destination Overview
City Lifestyle

Immfly gives the passengers the opportunity to get to know the city before touching the ground. The history and background of the city, the lifestyle of its citizens, the local culture and customs, the typical and traditional gastronomy of the region, the must-see and visited places, the unmissable secret spot overlooking the heart of the city or the sunset near the ocean, all of these information is now available for consult. The destination guide’s access is not restricted to the onboard experience. Instead of that, Immfly’ guides accompany and travel along the entire passenger’s trip, from the flight and while on the ground, by being downloaded in pdf files and stored in passengers own smart devices.

Tips
Nightlife, food & drinks and much more

Travel means discover the unknown and experience new and unforgettable places. Immfly’s travel guides suggest million of possible activities for any type of trip and traveller’s profile.
Tips for the ones who love to go out and have fun in a bustling city, the most famous places to eat and drink, the historical museums, the ideal place to go shopping, a walking tour by the city, are just some examples of what these travel guides are capable of.

Weather on destination

As part of planning, knowing the weather conditions on the final destination could be very useful. Immfly provides information on local weather conditions and forecasts which helps to
better organize the plans according to it.

Shopping online

Immfly’s digital services offer the best activities and transfer services in all destinations managed and in contact with different partners. Besides being informed, passengers can actually buy activities such as museums entrances, a touristic bus trip, a football game, while flying. Additionally to that, Iberia Express has developed a microsite where passengers can even purchase before and after the moment of flying, by simply accessing the Iberia Express activities website. The time spent on a plane, seated, is no more synonymous with wasting time. Now it is possible to plan in advance and avoid lines in the most searched places.

SKYfi the new catalogue selection for the OEM’s E-Jets E2 Program

Buxtehude, Germany | September 2017– KID-Systeme’s SKYfi Club – a wireless streaming onboard platform for passenger and corporate aircraft – has been selected by Embraer as catalogue linefit  option for the OEM’s E-Jets E2 Program. Airline customers are able to choose KID-Systeme’s streaming solution on aircraft types E195-E2, E190-E2 and E175-E2. The hardware will be offered by Embraer, customized software solutions will be provided to the airline customers by KID.

SKYfi Club streams content to passengers’ personal electronic devices, allowing them to access the available entertainment options, such as movies, e-books and magazines. The technology is based on the trusted ALNA (Airline Network Architecture) connectivity platform, which flies on over 650 aircraft already. The mature system provides a scalable and modular architecture adaptable to customer need. It enables a wide range of additional services such as GSM telephony, internet access and data services. Further SKYfi can be complemented by SKYpower, KID-Systeme’s in-seat power and cabin power management system.

Peter Schetschine, Managing Director of KID comments: “KID-Systeme is honoured and delighted about this selection. It is a recognition for our continuous striving for value adding innovations, high quality products and first class customer service.”

The E-Jets E2s, consisting of three aircraft types, entering into the market as the second generation of the Embraer E-jet family.

Black Swan and partner IAG took home award for Best Inflight Entertainment Innovation

London, UK | September 26, 2017– Black Swan Dataone of Europe’s leading data science technology companies, last night won the Best Inflight Entertainment Innovation award at The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) annual awards in Long Beach, California. The accolade was received for Black Swan and IAG’s ground-breaking and innovative in-flight portal for the 2017 launch of LEVEL, IAG’s new long-haul, low cost airline brand.

 

Passengers can customise and manage their in-flight experience by connecting to LEVEL’s entertainment platform through a combination of a fully integrated seatback portal and an app on their personal device.  The technology allows customers to seamlessly browse and purchase items whilst on-board, including the latest film, TV and music releases, as well as buying food & drink, duty-free goods and Wi-Fi packages. Through the use of advanced cryptology, secure payments can even be made whilst the aircraft is offline, enabling normal operation to continue if internet connectivity is not available. This innovative Pair and Pay functionality is unique to LEVEL, and the first in the airline industry.

 

In addition to offering passengers greater flexibility in how they spend their time in the air, it provides the carrier with an end-to-end view of passenger usage and behaviour through automated reports providing insights and metrics not possible before now. Over time this will be integrated with other data sources to further enhance the customers’ travel experience.

 

“We are absolutely delighted to have won this award with IAG,” said Steve King, CEO, Black Swan Data. “Data-driven technologies are impacting almost every single industry and avionics is now on the cusp of transforming its interaction with passengers through connectivity. By offering a truly integrated experience from door to door, airlines can expand not only their relationships with customers, but also with commercial partners.”

 

APEX is the only non-profit membership trade association dedicated to improving the entire airline passenger experience. This year’s APEX Awards, held on 25th September, recognised airlines and vendor partners in passenger experience who have successfully implemented new programmes and services in the last 12 months.

IFExpress found a few data points on industry folks who will be at APEX. Check them out!

FTS Technologies Inc.
Booth: 665
Contact: Ben Fuller, Director of Sales for Americas.  Darrel Chua, General Manager of FTS (and Sales for Asia) – darrel@fts-aero.com

APEX Highlights: We will be demonstrating our latest Xstream Lite wireless streaming system, with new revenue-generating opportunities.  Will also be showing our FlightButler(tm) app for flight attendant’s smartwatch, and our Modman for Satellite Connectivity.

Come and have some fun with the FTS Superhero team at booth 665 !  (and get your own Superhero giveaway).

Latitude Aero
Booth: 411
Contact: Kelvin Boyette:, +1 336-676-3183.

Latitude Aero will be exhibiting in AIX Booth 2351, but will have seats on display on the APEX side in DDC’s (Pascall) booth, 411.

APEX Highlights: Latitude Aero is a FAA Part 145 Repair Station, specializing in aircraft seating refurbishment, upgrades, modifications, and repairs.  We look forward to meeting customer at both events.  Please stop by our booth at AIX, and definitely stop by Pascall’s booth to see our newest project, a prototype USB power system that will debut in our refurbished seats on their stand.  Latitude will have staff on both stands for the duration of the show.

Astronics Advanced Electronic Systems
Booth: 441
Contact: Dennis Markert (dennis.markert@astronics.com)

APEX Highlights: Astronics AES is looking forward to meeting with you at APEX Expo 2017.  We have several new, innovative products that we are excited to unveil.  Here is a preview of products and solutions that will be on display.

SIE
Booth: 902
Contact: John Courtright: +1-206-618-3128

APEX Highlights: SIE is a U.S. and European based engineering firm with AS9100C and ISO 9001 accreditation for Design, Engineering, Certification, Program Management, and Procurement of Aircraft Systems and Structures. Our specialty is the design, engineering, systems integration, certification (STC), and parts kitting for major IFEC installation programs for commercial, military, and VIP aircraft. Projects include  installation and certification for Ka/Ku-Band Satcom Systems and Cabin IFE and Interior Re-configurations on 737NG, 757, 777, MD-10, and A320 aircraft.  Customers include:  Southwest Airlines, Norwegian, IcelandAir, United Airlines, Honeywell, Global Eagle, Panasonic, and others.

VTMiltope
Booth:1211
Contact: Jeff.Drader@Miltope.com

APEX Highlights: VT Miltope is proud to be an APEX member exhibiting in Long Beach this year.  We are highlighting our upcoming Multi-Function Access Point 3 (MAP3) featuring:  faster WAVE 2, Enhanced CHT, an Embedded Server, and Cyber Security.  Please stop by VT Miltope booth 1211 to say hello and learn more about the remarkable MAP3.

Flightpath Labs
Booth: 949
Contact – Jackie Frimer <jackie@flightpath3d.com>

APEX Highlights: The Latest from our Flightpath Labs, FlightPath360 where passengers can take a virtual flight over a destination with panorama technology making you feel as if you are in the sky over major cities and destination. Jjoin us at our booth to see this full 360-degree immersive view of cities and destinations from the sky. It allows airlines to give passengers control of the viewing direction with stunning panoramic views to zoom, rotate or hover over wonders of the world. Book your appointment now for Booth #949 to see for yourself how we have transformed a simple inflight map into a powerful tool for passengers and airlines

And lastly, here is some show info that might help, APEX, IFSA, and AIX – Schedule | APEX EXPO

Gogo
Booth: 502
Contact: Meredith Payette <mpayette@gogoair.com>

Gogo is the Inflight Internet Company. We are the leading global provider of broadband connectivity products and services for aviation. We design and source innovative network solutions that connect aircraft to the Internet, and develop software and platforms that enable customizable solutions for and by our aviation partners. Once connected, we provide industry leading reliability around the world. Our mission is to help aviation go farther by making planes fly smarter, so our aviation partners perform better and their passengers travel happier. You can find Gogo’s products and services including Gogo 2Ku, our global satellite connectivity solution at Booth 502.

 


More News:

Lufthansa Systems
Passengers now expect the same level of connectivity in the air that they enjoy on the ground. This is why Lufthansa Systems is focusing on connectivity at this year’s Airline Passenger Experience Expo (APEX) in Long Beach, California. Group subsidiary Lufthansa Technik is sharing a stand for the first time. The two Lufthansa Group companies, who collaborate closely in providing on-board Internet and entertainment, are both presenting their own connectivity solutions. Lufthansa Systems will demonstrate the multi-award-winning BoardConnect wireless inflight entertainment (IFE) platform and its different hardware versions, while Lufthansa Technik will showcase its LConnect hardware and service package. The airline IT provider is also presenting its new mCabin/Messenger app, one of the apps of the mCabin Product Line. Visit Lufthansa Systems and Lufthansa Technik from September 26 to 28 at APEX at stand #453.

Thales
Thales (Euronext Paris: HO) announces today the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire the US company Guavus, a pioneer in real-time Big Data analytics.The acquisition of Guavus follows several acquisitions in the fields of connectivity, mobility and cyber security, and strengthens Thales’s positioning in one of the key technologies at the heart of digital transformation, the processing and predictive analysis of “big data”, an increasingly critical factor in real-time decision-making.Airlines, satellite, air traffic control, metro or train operators, armed forces or security officials of large urban or energy infrastructures rely on Thales’s high technology solutions to take the best decisions in real time. In a world facing exponential growth in the volume of data coming from increasingly connected sensors, Guavus’s acquisition opens broad opportunities for Thales in areas including predictive maintenance, cyber security, monitoring of critical infrastructures, network and telecommunication systems optimization. Guavus, a leader in real-time big data processing and analytics, is perfectly suited to the growing needs of an increasingly connected global ecosystem. The company has built a recognized industrial “big data” platform particularly suited to real-time analytics, designed to be easily implemented across any number of new markets. In addition, by bringing the expertise of its 160 strong R&D engineering workforce, Guavus will significantly enrich Thales’s expertise in this field.

Gogo
Gogo Business Aviation (NASDAQ: GOGO), long recognized as the leading provider of broadband connectivity products and services for business aviation in North America, is expanding its reach to become a global provider with the announcement of a high throughput satellite service for business aviation. The new service will utilize Gogo’s existing Ku-band satellite network, the same trusted high capacity satellite network that is currently providing bandwidth for more than 550 commercial aviation aircraft across 10 airlines globally. Gogo is currently bringing additional HTS (high throughput satellite) capacity online as part of its global satellite network, which will boost the performance of both its new business aviation Ku solution and its commercial aviation network solutions. Service is expected to be available in the second half of 2018.

INMARSAT/Rockwell Collins
Inmarsat has signed a strategic agreement with Rockwell Collins, a leading provider of aviation and high-integrity solutions, for the global distribution of its next-generation SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) flightdeck connectivity solution. The agreement builds on a successful long-term strategic relationship between the two companies and will bring new levels of safety and operational efficiency to the aviation industry.

SITA
Airlines and airports are estimated to spend nearly US$33 billion on IT this year, according to the SITA 2017 Air Transport IT Trends Insights released today. And they are focusing their technology investments on similar priorities. Top of the agenda for CIOs at both airlines and airports, are investments in cyber security and cloud services. In addition, they are prioritizing investments in passenger self-service. SITA’s research of the world’s airlines and airports shows that IT spend remains strong. Airlines’ spend as a percentage of revenue will rise to an estimated 3.30% or US$24.3 billion[1] in 2017. For airports, the rise is to an expected 5.05% for this year or US$8.43 billion. Looking ahead to 2018 over 70% of airlines and 88% of airports are expecting IT spend to increase or remain at the same levels as today. As IT spend increases, both airlines and airports agree that the number one priority for their investments is cyber security. Nearly all of them – 95% of airlines and 96% of airports – plan to invest in major programs or R&D on cyber security initiatives over the next three years. This shows alignment across the industry on the importance of investing in this area.

Cloud services are another top investment priority with 95% of airlines and 85% of airports planning to invest over the next three years, continuing an upward trend that SITA has recorded since 2015. The third key area of investment that was highlighted by both airlines and airports is to provide extra self-service options to passengers.

Airlines are focusing on providing mobile services. Today the vast majority of airlines provide check-in (73%), boarding (70%) and flight status notifications (68%) via mobile and by 2020 more than 97% plan to do so. A key area of growth will be providing real-time flight updates over social media which will jump from 31% of airlines doing so to 92% in the next three years.

Providing a seamless experience is key to the airlines. In total, 94% rate streamlining services into a single app as a priority, with 58% rating this as a high priority. Mobile app capabilities and usability are developing quickly and an increasing number of airlines plan to use mobile as a customer service tool, including at times of disruption.

At airports, self-service processes at check-in, bag drop and boarding are increasingly popular with passengers and 89% of airports are investing in these processes. Airports operators have a keen focus on improving the journey through the terminal and are looking to new technologies such as the Internet of Things, beacons and sensors, to support their goals. SITA’s insights show that 80% are investing, or planning to invest, in these technologies over the next three years. Nearly three quarters, 74%, are investing in way-finding solutions and 68% in solutions to improve personalization for the passenger. SITA’s IT Trends are well established as the global benchmark research for the air transport industry. Senior IT executives at the top airlines and airports took part in the research earlier this year. The 2017 results once again provide a clear insight on the air transport industry’s IT strategic thinking and developments.

Black Swan
Today, Black Swan Data, one of Europe’s leading data science technology companies, has announced the appointment of Patrick Prefontaine as Chief Commercial Officer at Black Swan Avionics (BSA).

Patrick’s appointment is part of the ongoing growth of BSA and its innovative work, including delivering inflight solutions for the 2017 launch of LEVEL, the International Airlines Group’s (IAG) new long-haul, low cost airline brand. Working in partnership with IAG, Panasonic, VISA, Cybersource and First Data, on the launch of LEVEL, and in collaboration with visual design agency MASSIVE, BSA has delivered in-seat interactive technology, portal and app development, crew applications, data resource management in a fully holistic solution. The innovative Pair & Pay functionality is unique to LEVEL and the first in the airline industry. Patrick will be at APEX EXPO 2017 in Long Beach, CA, from 24th-28th September and is available for interviews and meetings.


OTHER

IFExpress has a lot of news to cover this week, so let’s get underway!

Thales

On July 7, 2017, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted Thales a blanket license authorization for operation of its airborne terminals communicating with geostationary satellites; EchoStar XVII, EchoStar XIX, AMC-15 and AMC-16.

In only three months – from initial application to approval – the FCC granted Thales this license to use its terminals on all U.S. and non-U.S. registered aircraft anywhere in the network’s coverage footprint for all four satellites in operation. This 15-year license is a significant milestone for the launch of Thales’ FlytLIVE™ network.

And, it allows Thales to begin extensive network testing this year as initially projected, leading to commercial service availability in late 2017. In addition to other notable achievements, Thales is paving the way to conclude registrations with other regulatory administrations throughout the Americas region.

“This is a necessary step to launch service this year on our new FlytLIVE Ka-band network for the Americas,” according to Dominique Giannoni, the CEO of Thales InFlyt Experience. “This terminal will operate with all four satellites we have deployed in our network. The satellites, terminal, and network technologies are all converging to meet our program objectives.”

This is the latest development to the announcements made by Thales and SES earlier this year for a set of strategic agreements with Hughes to enhance the delivery of FlytLIVE which will provide increased capacity, coverage and redundancy over the Americas. In 2016, Thales announced its initial two agreements with SES. With these agreements, Thales will offer airlines the most efficient inflight connectivity experience and will add to its network the new SES-17 satellite – uniquely designed for Aeronautical Connectivity – to be launched in 2020.

Gogo

The connectivity provider  announced recently that its next generation modem has been introduced into commercial airline service. The proprietary features of the new modem will significantly increase throughput from the satellite to end users on the aircraft. The modem is capable of delivering more than 16x the throughput of Gogo’s existing modem, which offers plenty of room to support the increased capacity of next generation high-throughput satellites as they come online. The new modem includes dual channels to simultaneously support internet traffic and broadcast IPTV. It also features faster and more sophisticated processing that enables much shorter hand-offs from one satellite to the next“We are always looking at new innovations in each component of our connectivity solutions,” said Anand Chari, chief technology officer“This new modem greatly improves the performance of our industry leading 2Ku solution, as well as our Ku solution, and is forward compatible with new HTS satellite constellations. This modem helps us future proof our in-flight connectivity solutions.” The new modem will be retrofitted on more than 450 aircraft on which Gogo’s 2Ku or Ku systems are installed through an easy plug and play installation process. In addition, the 2Ku system installed on Gogo’s backlog of more than 1400 aircraft will include the new modem.

Panasonic

The company was selected by Air China to supply eX3 IFEC system for 10 A350s. Air China, the flag carrierand one of the major airlines of the People’s Republic of China, has selected inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) solutions from Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) for its fleet of Airbus A350 aircraft. Under the terms of the agreement, Panasonic will provide its industry-leading eX3 inflight entertainment for 10 Air China A350 aircraft. The first of these aircraft will be delivered in December 2017. By selecting eX3, Air China will offer a unique passenger experience that includes audio and video on demand, a content library that can offer up to 300 movies, 200 TV shows, games, music, a moving map, and much more.

These A350 aircraft will also offer global connectivity services, which will allow Air China passengers to keep in touch with friends, families, co-workers and current events everywhere these aircraft fly. Panasonic operates connectivity service in 210 countries, including China.

Hideo Nakano, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said: “We are honored to partner with Air China on its A350 program. Because the airline’s route structure includes very long flights to all seven continents, it needed an IFEC solution that would help keep passengers entertained and offer new opportunities for it to generate revenue.

“With eX3, Air China will offer its passengers a memorable experience that lets them watch movies and television, listen to music or connect to their favorite social media applications like WeChat. The reliability, performance and flexibility of eX3 and our connectivity service makes it an ideal choice for these aircraft.”

Inmarsat

Inmarsat, provider of global mobile satellite communications, unveils the results of its third annual global Inflight Connectivity Survey. The survey, which reflects the views of 9,000 airline passengers from 18 countries across the globe, reveals:

·  60% of passengers believe inflight connectivity is a necessity not a luxury

·  61% of passengers who have experienced good inflight Wi-Fi consider it more important than inflight entertainment when choosing an airline

·  44% of passengers would stop using their preferred airline in the next year if it offered poor quality inflight connectivity

·  61% agree that inflight Wi-Fi takes anxiety out of flying because they can stay in contact with people on the ground

· 66% of parents traveling with children said IFC is a “life saver”

Inflight broadband is changing the airline industry and revolutionizing passengers’ expectations of the onboard experience. That is the conclusion from the third annual global Inflight Connectivity Survey, published today by Inmarsat, the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, in association with market research company GfK.

Overwhelmingly, passengers now expect the same levels of connectivity and access to online services whilst they are at 30,000 feet as they receive on the ground. As such, 60% of all passengers say that inflight Wi-Fi is now a necessity rather than a luxury. The majority (61%) of global passengers who have experienced high-quality inflight Wi-Fi rate it higher on their list of priorities than inflight entertainment when choosing an airline. With airlines in every market racing to install or upgrade their Wi-Fi offering, passengers will have a choice to opt for an airline that offers high-quality broadband, and will soon turn their back on airlines not offering this. Nearly half of respondents (44%) said they would stop using their preferred airline within the next year if it did not offer connectivity enabling them to stream or browse online without interruption. The ability to connect to personal devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets now sits within the top three considerations when choosing an airline, behind ticket price (53%) and flight slots (44%) for 40% of passengers who have experienced high-quality Wi-Fi. What’s more, the ability to remain online and work during a flight is greatly improving passenger experience, according to more than half (56%) of business travellers who have previously used inflight Wi-Fi.

The survey reflects the responses of 9,000 airline passengers from 18 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and North and Latin America, and is the largest global passenger survey of its kind.

Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “High-quality inflight Wi-Fi is changing the way people think about flying and how they spend their time in the air. Whether using the time to work, to connect with friends and family, or to pass time shopping or viewing entertainment, the availability of inflight broadband has become a major factor when choosing an airline.”

He continued: “The annual Inflight Connectivity Survey has become a barometer for passenger sentiment. This year’s survey reveals that 60% of passengers believe that inflight Wi-Fi is a necessity and no longer a luxury. This will only increase as more people experience inflight connectivity. It is clear the opportunity that connectivity presents to airlines cannot be underestimated.”

Global survey highlights

·    Two thirds (66%) of parents travelling with children said inflight Wi-Fi is a “life saver” when helping to keep children occupied during flights

·   Of passengers who have experienced high-quality inflight Wi-Fi: 61% say it is more important to them than onboard entertainment 45% would rather pay for Wi-Fi than use free onboard entertainment

·    56% of passengers say a lack of reliable inflight Wi-Fi is a major cause of frustration with plane journeys

·    61% agree that inflight Wi-Fi takes the anxiety out of flying because they can stay in contact with people on the ground

·    77% of passengers would pay for inflight connectivity on short haul leisure flights, an increase from 64% in 2016. Those happiest to pay are passengers aged 25-34, parents traveling with children and passengers traveling in Asia Pacific and the United States

·    89% of passengers are willing to pay for inflight connectivity on long haul leisure flights

·    Passengers have the highest expectations of connectivity in the Asia Pacific region, where 91% of passengers are willing to pay for Wi-Fi on a long haul flight

·    52% of passengers would take advantage of the ability to purchase items during a flight and collect them upon arrival at the airport, providing huge opportunities for inflight e-commerce

AIRBUS

Airbus has delivered its 100th A350 XWB, just some 30 months after the first delivery of the world’s most modern widebody aircraft in December 2014. The 100th aircraft delivered is an A350-900 for China Airlines.

“The 100th A350 XWB milestone comes as we reach our fastest widebody production ramp-up, on track to meet the target of 10 A350 deliveries per month by the end of 2018,” said Fabrice Bregier, Airbus COO and President Commercial Aircraft. “We are especially proud to deliver today’s aircraft to our long-standing customer China Airlines. The A350 is setting new standards for long haul air travel in terms of efficiency and comfort, thus being the perfect aircraft for China Airlines to expand its long-haul network.” To date the A350 has been delivered to 14 airlines worldwide and is flying with an outstanding operational reliability rate of 99%*. “This is a remarkable statistic at this early stage of the programme,” Fabrice Bregier adds.

The A350 XWB features the latest aerodynamic design, carbon fiber fuselage and wings, plus new fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce engines. Together, these latest technologies translate into unrivaled levels of operational efficiency, with a 25 per cent reduction in fuel burn and emissions, and significantly lower maintenance costs. As the founding member of “Airspace by Airbus” cabin brand, the A350 XWB cabin provides passengers and crews the best in comfort, well-being and technology.

The A350-1000 is the new member of the A350 XWB family and benefits from its high level of commonality with the A350-900. Scheduled for Type Certification and first Customer delivery in the fourth quarter of 2017, the A350-1000 is currently performing an intensive and successful flight test campaign.

To date, Airbus has recorded a total of 847 firm orders for the A350 XWB from 45 customers worldwide, already making it one of the most successful widebody aircraft ever.


MORE

  • Latitude Aero is pleased to announce Neil Robinson as the new Director of Global Sales. “With over 20 years of aviation experience, Robinson possesses impressive leadership skills and a deep understanding of customer centric sales,” said Kelvin Boyette, Latitude Aero’s CEO. “He is highly experienced at business development, innovation, marketing, and consultative based selling across multiple verticals with a specific focus on commercial aviation,” Boyette added. “The bottom line is I am excited about him joining.  He brings a vast amount of experience in international sales, and will lead our global sales efforts and will be tasked with the development of our network of globally based sales professionals,” concluded Boyette.
  • Luo Gang has been appointed CEO of Airbus’ new innovation centre to be set up in China. A location will be announced at a later date. With a degree in electrical engineering from Tianjin University and an MBA from the London Business School, Gang spent nearly three years establishing Uber China’s business before it was acquired by Didi Chuxing in 2016. His experience in London with UK start-up Rangespan taught him how quickly technology can transform traditional businesses.
  • One reader wrote us: Maybe an article about SMPTE might be of interest to your readers among whom I conclude are Content Providers or IFE Video providers, etc. Does this subject have an interest for you? If so, you may want to register for the 2017 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition in Hollywood, CA October 23-26, 2017. Register here!
  • John Courtright noted possible future seating issues:  The key here will be to watch the industry responses, from airlines, seat supplier, and flyer’s rights’ groups, during the “Comment Period.  Comment Periods are supposed to open for view and I suspect that comments should start within 30 days of the deadline the judge set! This will be interesting” .  Judge Orders Review Of Airline Seat Sizes, Legroom « WCCO | CBS Minnesota  also Passenger rights group wins court victory in fight to keep airline seats from shrinking – LA Times
  • It looks like Boeing has a new organization that will produce avionics and other electronics. As we understand, the company is planning in the next decade to compete with the likes of Rockwell Collins and others. The goal is drive down costs and provide avionics in the vertical manufacturing process. Stay Tuned!

Austrian Airlines is the second passenger airline of the Lufthansa Group to launch new interactive entertainment platform. 

London, Vienna | August 1, 2017– Austrian Airlines will be the latest international carrier to launch Profile, Spafax’s entertainment personalization platform. Using proprietary software developed by Spafax, Austrian Airlines’ passengers can access http://austrian-inflightentertainment.com to learn what entertainment will be available on their trip, as well as more in-depth information about each program all via a highly interactive web experience.

The new site features a full listing of all movies, television programs, music and games onboard. Profile’s responsive design allows visitors to navigate the site from any device, and its ease of navigation mirrors or exceeds what you would find on leading entertainment portals.

“In 2017, we committed to rolling out in-flight connectivity on our short- and medium-haul flights. As part of our digital transformation strategy, we are very pleased to partner with Spafax to take the way we present our entertainment program to our customers to the next level” noted Thomas Laxar, Director, In-Flight Entertainment & Connectivity, Content & Portal Austrian Airlines.

Spafax CEO, Niall McBain added, “We are always trying to help our clients use both content and technology to improve their customer experience. We are excited to be able to provide Profile to Austrian Airlines as a natural extension of their digital entertainment program.”

AirFi Box IFE streaming platform now features latest Hollywood movies, hit TV shows, viral videos, best-selling digital newspapers and magazines without requiring passengers to download an app.

  • AirFi Box security approved by leading Hollywood Studios and other major distributors
  • Premium Content packages affordable and easy to modify or update for airlines, while studio content remains safe from piracy
  • Partnership with LA-based boutique CSP West Entertainment instrumental in creation of premium offering.

Berlin, DE | April 24, 2017– AirFi, the market-leading provider of portable onboard Wi-Fi platforms to airlines, today announced that has launched an innovative and truly economical new range of curated Premium Content packages for all airline customers.

AirFi and West Entertainment, the LA-based boutique content service provider founded by industry innovators Rick Warren and Kate Groth, have collaborated closely to tailor an offering of premium movies & TV content designed to meet AirFi’s diverse client portfolio requirements. From this offering, airlines can build their own packages of content based on passenger demographic, budget, content renewal cycles, viewing data, or other criteria.

“AirFi encouraged us at West Entertainment – as well as the wider international content community – to collaborate and find new ways to keep pricing as lean as possible for even their smallest airline fleet operators. We examined ways to supply without the need for DRM protection where possible, thus avoiding the hassle of airlines having to introduce native apps for passengers to view the content onboard. We’ve been delighted with the response.” said Kate Groth, VP Everything, West Entertainment.

Job Heimerikx, CEO AirFi commented: “Having now grown to 30 airline clients, we’re even more dedicated to keeping the AirFi passenger experience the best in the industry. That means considering all demographics, regions, languages and technologies. We can now offer a full suite of international entertainment options, sourcing premium content from leading movie studios, TV distributors, online news & entertainment platforms and digital publishing houses. As ever, it is also our mission to translate this into simplified and highly competitive pricing.”

In recent months, AirFi secured formal security approval from a number of key IFE content suppliers, including major and independent Hollywood studios and TV distributors. Increasingly, these content sources are providing their premium content to AirFi without DRM (digital rights management) or by using AirFi’s “app-free” technology, where DRM is required.

Packages consist of new release and classic feature films, top-rated television box-set and catch up series – where comedies, dramas, documentaries and kids programming feature highly.

“We based our new Premium Content offer on three simple tiered-pricing levels that start as low as €500 per package per aircraft per month,” says Heimerikx. “We can then flex these to meet individual airline requirements. Over half of our client base immediately responded with requests for proposals and our first Premium Content customers go live in May this year,” he adds.

  • The industry leader in wireless in-flight platforms since 2014 in Europe, Immfly, is already providing airlines a game changer autonomous system in the rapidly growing In-flight Entertainment & Connectivity market

Barcelona, Spain | November 24, 2016– Pioneering the IFE-C Market in Europe since its launch with Iberia Express two years ago, Immfly, owning an STC for A320 and A330 aircraft, offers airlines a unique solution ready to be installed in just one night. Its unprecedented system, currently operational on three airlines, consists of one server, several WAPs and one switch in the cockpit, and proves to autonomously upgrade and download the content and the software every time the aircraft lands. The company, having achieved an industry first with its technological approach, steadily responds to the market demands and sustains its position as the industry’s prefered wireless solution in Europe.

“One of the key reasons that brought us to partner with Immfly was its unique operations management value proposition, which leaves the airline a margin of any manoeuvre” states Ricard Falomir, CIO from Iberia Express. “Upon landing the system automatically connects to the Cloud to download passenger data and process payment transactions. With Immfly onboard we just have to make sure that the hardware is on, the rest is successfully managed either by their operations team or by the system itself”.

Moreover, Immfly substantiates that connectivity is just around the corner. “According to how the market is taking shape, we propose airlines a flexible 2 step approach with no operational disruption: First Wireless IFE and then Wireless IFE & Connectivity” says Alfredo Ibáñez, CTO of the Barcelona based company, Immfly. “Given that our product is compatible with most connectivity operators and integrators, adding a connectivity system to an Immfly equipped aircraft involves a seamless integration with significant cost benefits and technological synergies”.

  • The European leader focused on revenue services, eCommerce onboard and Newsfeed, Immfly, lands on its first Apex Award, and is finalist for the Best In-Flight Connectivity Innovation

APEX EXPO, Singapore | October 25, 2016– Being its first time participating in the Awards, Immfly’s wireless solution received double recognition during the ceremony held at the 2016 APEX Expo in Singapore. Selected by a number of industry professionals, the Spanish company was announced finalist for the Best In-Flight Connectivity Innovation category, and additionally won The Newcomer of the Year Award, designed to recognize a unique achievement successfully implemented in the past year.

This year, with more than 100 qualified entries, the Apex Awards program expanded from two to eight categories to embrace the high number of competitive submissions. A panel of industry peers judged entries and selected those airlines and / or vendor partners that had recently launched an innovative and brand new product or service. Immfly’s digital solution, which is the only one in Europe that offers tailored, quality, content-rich platforms specialised in revenue optimisation, was recognized as one of those products. Moreover, this Award comes on the heels of a year of milestones, new airline partnerships, and opened maritime market.

“We are delighted about having received two recognitions at once since it sets our solution as a game-changer on both a national and an international scale, shining a spotlight on what differentiates us from the competition” states Jimmy M. von Korff, co-founder of the Spanish company, who was present at the ceremony and collected the price. “Moreover, it has an exclusive motivational effect on the team and our partners, as it recognizes their hard work and celebrate success”.
The Barcelona based company is currently at the 4-day premier event in Singapore, meeting regional and global airlines to discuss the latest strategies and technology in the air travel industry, committed to elevating the airline passenger experience, and getting closer to their objective of becoming the travel industry’s favorite on-board monetization partner, reaching 100 million connected passengers by 2018.

  • The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, El Financiero and STAT signed as distribution partners

APEX EXPO, Singapore | October 24, 2016– Bloomberg Media Distribution has announced a partnership with a raft of premium publishers to provide business, technology, entertainment, music, lifestyle and health news to global audiences. Bloomberg Media Distribution will distribute The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, El Financiero and STAT text and video content alongside the best of Bloomberg Media.

Josh Rucci, General Manager, Bloomberg Media Distribution says: “As the media landscape continues to evolve, so has content creation and syndication. More companies are looking to license content to add breadth and depth for their audiences. By partnering with a diverse group of publishers, Bloomberg can now offer significant capabilities to deliver a range of content easily and at scale. ”

Bloomberg’s media distribution business has greatly expanded since its inception and today provides text, photos, videos and data for broadcast, digital and print syndication to publishers, broadcasters and other companies in more than 130 countries.

With in-depth reporting, analysis, unprecedented access, world-class photography and video, and feature exclusives, The Hollywood Reporter is the entertainment industry’s flagship media brand and the definitive source for breaking entertainment and business news. Billboard is the leading global destination for charts, news, trends and innovations in music. Built on built on the most complete and well-respected database of charts across all music genres, Billboard has unmatched authority among fans, artists and the industry alike.

“The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard always strive to deliver unparalleled coverage to our readers,” said John Amato, co-president of The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group. “By partnering with Bloomberg Media, our flagship brands for the entertainment and music industries, will be introduced to a new, highly engaged and global audience.”

Pegged by Columbia Journalism Review as the “media start-up to envy,” STAT reports from the frontiers of health and medicine, providing in-depth coverage of research, drug discovery, patient care, national politics, and the money trail in big pharma and health care. Rick Berke, STAT’s executive editor added: “STAT’s partnership with Bloomberg will help us to share our valuable reporting and head-turning multimedia with more readers who are eager for stories about health and medicine that they can’t get anywhere else.”

El Financiero offers comprehensive news coverage on finance, economics and business news from Mexico, in Spanish, whilst STAT delivers fast, deep, and tough-minded journalism, taking readers inside science labs and hospitals, biotech boardrooms, and political backrooms.

This month also sees the debut of Bloomberg’s new half-hour television and digital series ‘The David Rubenstein Show: Peer to Peer Conversations’, hosted by financier and philanthropist David Rubenstein. Rubenstein interviews some of the world’s most influential power players about their person and professional journeys, including Bill Gates, Lloyd Blankfein and Warren Buffett.

Australia | September 22, 2016– At this year’s Apex Expo, the Stellar Entertainment team will be launching its new, industry-first product, pixL™.

The product of several years of development at Stellar’s facilities throughout Asia and the U.S., pixL™ is a modern web app, providing airlines with a comprehensive ecosystem of entertainment. pixL™ acts as a ‘one-stop-shop’, where an airline can review all available content, view trailers, read reviews and explore data analytics about passenger usage on IFE systems across their fleet.

pixL™ has millions of listings, complete with language and subtitle options and availability information from the major Hollywood labs. pixL™ handles purchase orders, music streaming, catalog management, preview screening and budgets.

Says Rob Lynch, Chairman of the Stellar Group, “pixL™ is unique to Stellar and is a big leap forward in the monthly content shortlisting and management process of our industry. With pixL™, an airline has choice and control over its content in a way that has never been possible before.

pixL™ is the tool for the future of the airline entertainment content industry.”

To make an appointment at Stellar’s booth #1215, contact info@stellargroup.com.

Los Angeles, CA | August 8, 2016– Global Eagle Entertainment (ENT) (“GEE”), a leading provider of satellite-based connectivity and media to rapidly expanding mobility markets, today announced that it has signed a contract with Avianca Brasil to provide inflight connectivity to the carrier’s full fleet of over 40 aircraft. Avianca Brasil operates in 24 airports with over 200 daily flights in South America.

GEE has been the provider of inflight entertainment content services to Avianca Brasil and its partner airline, Avianca, since June 2015. This agreement, which will expand the relationship with the Brazilian airline, demonstrates the ability of GEE’s technology and content solutions to deliver an unparalleled connectivity and entertainment experience to airline passengers. The service will utilize and incorporate certain assets from EMC, the company recently acquired by GEE, including already procured satellite bandwidth in the region and the Speednet technology to improve browsing speeds. More details on the service will be provided as Avianca Brasil nears the official launch of inflight connectivity for its passengers.

London, UK | July 20, 2016– IMG, a global leader in sports, events, media and fashion, has agreed a deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the international inflight and inship rights for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The deal will see IMG distribute live coverage of the Games to the airline and cruise line industries, excluding all routes within the U.S. In addition, the company will produce other non-live inflight programming, including daily and weekly highlights programmes and a review of the Games which will be available within two days of the event’s conclusion.

The deal will also see more than 200 hours of live action shown across the 17 days of competition on Sport 24 and Sport 24 Extra, the IMG-owned and operated channels produced exclusively for inflight, including every minute of the opening and closing ceremonies.

Richard Wise, Senior Vice President, IMG Media said: “The Olympic Games is the biggest event on the sporting calendar and we are very pleased to be providing the inflight and inship market with the best of the action live, starting with the Opening Ceremony on Friday 5th August. It will certainly make those airlines and cruise lines carrying the live feed a more appealing proposition to passengers when choosing who to travel with during this time.”

Timo Lumme, IOC TMS Managing Director, said: “We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with IMG for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 to be shown in the air and at sea. Our objective is to reach the widest possible audience and therefore it is important that coverage is as accessible as possible, and we are delighted that viewers will be able to watch the action live while on their travels.”

IMG provides more sports programming to airlines than any other distributor, each year supplying over 600 hours of programming to more than 50 international airlines, while Sport 24 is a 24/7 service, currently available across 11 airlines and six cruise lines.

United Kingdom | June 15, 2016– Dawson Media Direct is delighted to welcome aboard its new Managing Director, Paul Rayson. Mr Rayson will succeed the company’s outgoing MD John Howe, who retires next month.

Rayson joins DMD from a fixed term contact position on the Executive Leadership Team of Flightglobal, the authoritative source of news, insight and expertise for the global aviation community. In that role he worked internationally with airlines, airports and government bodies, having previously held leadership positions across the aviation, aerospace, publishing, consultancy and logistics sectors. He brings a wealth of highly relevant experience to the job and the specialist knowledge needed to lead DMD in its ambitions for the coming years.

“DMD has challenging but entirely achievable development plans”, said Rayson today, “with the fuller integration of its global print and digital services into one seamless multimedia solution. I’m confident my experience with both formats and the main market sectors we serve can help guide completion of that dovetailing process, and I’m happy to inherit from John a strong management team with unrivalled expertise in airline media of every kind.”

Paul Rayson went on to pay tribute to his predecessor, who has run the company for the past 17 years: “Over that time John has successfully positioned DMD for the digital age whilst keeping a strong focus on its core business in physical newspaper and magazine provision; and he has grown us from a UK operation to a truly global one, with service centres from Hong Kong to New York to Istanbul, and beyond. John Howe has been a longstanding leader for DMD, and an outstanding one, and he richly deserves a happy retirement.”

Mr Howe added: “I am leaving DMD in good hands and in good shape – ready to face the challenges ahead in our ever-evolving industry. I joined a company serving airlines in the UK only, and airlines remain the lifeblood of our business, but as we globalised we built new relationships too, with rail operators, airports and airside lounge operators all around the world. That has opened up really exciting opportunities for Paul and the team to develop, and I wish them very great success with it.”

United Kingdom | June 15, 2016– Dawson Media Direct is delighted to welcome aboard its new Managing Director, Paul Rayson. Mr Rayson will succeed the company’s outgoing MD John Howe, who retires next month.

Rayson joins DMD from a fixed term contact position on the Executive Leadership Team of Flightglobal, the authoritative source of news, insight and expertise for the global aviation community. In that role he worked internationally with airlines, airports and government bodies, having previously held leadership positions across the aviation, aerospace, publishing, consultancy and logistics sectors. He brings a wealth of highly relevant experience to the job and the specialist knowledge needed to lead DMD in its ambitions for the coming years.

“DMD has challenging but entirely achievable development plans”, said Rayson today, “with the fuller integration of its global print and digital services into one seamless multimedia solution. I’m confident my experience with both formats and the main market sectors we serve can help guide completion of that dovetailing process, and I’m happy to inherit from John a strong management team with unrivalled expertise in airline media of every kind.”

Paul Rayson went on to pay tribute to his predecessor, who has run the company for the past 17 years: “Over that time John has successfully positioned DMD for the digital age whilst keeping a strong focus on its core business in physical newspaper and magazine provision; and he has grown us from a UK operation to a truly global one, with service centres from Hong Kong to New York to Istanbul, and beyond. John Howe has been a longstanding leader for DMD, and an outstanding one, and he richly deserves a happy retirement.”

Mr Howe added: “I am leaving DMD in good hands and in good shape – ready to face the challenges ahead in our ever-evolving industry. I joined a company serving airlines in the UK only, and airlines remain the lifeblood of our business, but as we globalised we built new relationships too, with rail operators, airports and airside lounge operators all around the world. That has opened up really exciting opportunities for Paul and the team to develop, and I wish them very great success with it.”

Hollywood, CA | May 10, 2016– Paramount Pictures has selected The Hub, Spafax’s state-of-the-art facility located in the heart of Hollywood, as its exclusive non-theatrical post-production lab. The Hub will provide a full array of technical services, including editing, subtitling, closed-captioning and encoding of feature films for non-theatrical exhibition.

“The Hub is a world-class facility boasting the latest technology required for delivering high quality Paramount content to in-flight and other non-theatrical markets,” said Joan Filippini, Paramount’s SVP, Non-Theatrical Distribution. “The ways in which we all enjoy content have changed drastically in the past few years. The Hub is at the forefront of important consumer and technological trends while maintaining a proven track record of delivery. Furthermore, our Worldwide Technical Operations team is thrilled to have an important partner located so close to our lot here in Hollywood.”

Spafax Chief Technical Officer, Tony Taverner added, “We’re honored to be selected by Paramount. Paramount’s award-winning content is crucial to our clients’ entertainment offerings, and we look forward to being their exclusive non-theatrical post-production facility.”

The Hub is located at the historic Sunset-Gower Studios in Hollywood and currently delivers over 15,000 audio and video files each month. Equipped with a fully automated and digital workflow from file release to delivery, The Hub offers flawless content delivery to any platform, including embedded and wireless in-flight entertainment systems, streaming and mobile.

The facility also provides Spafax’s technical services team with access to additional world-class production amenities within the lot, including 23 stages and over 700,000 square feet of production support space, recording studios and viewing theaters

  • Transaction valued at $550 Million
  • Creates a leading provider of satellite-based communications and media content to rapidly growing mobility markets
  • Combined company expected to generate pro forma revenue of $660-690 million in 2016
  • Annual synergies expected to reach $40 million

Los Angeles, CA | May 9, 2016– Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (NASDAQ: ENT) (“GEE”) today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Emerging Markets Communications (“EMC”), a leading communications services provider to maritime and other mobility markets. The combined company will become a leading provider of global satellite- based communications and media content serving the rapidly growing aviation and maritime markets and select land-based markets. For additional details, please visit GEE’s transaction microsite at GEE-EMC.mobi.

Under the agreement, GEE will pay $550 million for EMC. EMC shareholders will receive $30 million in cash and 6.6 million shares of GEE stock at closing and another $25 million in 2017, which may be paid in cash or stock at GEE’s election. As a result of this transaction, ABRY Partners (“ABRY”), an experienced communications-focused private equity investment firm and the majority owner of EMC, will acquire an equity position in GEE as well as the right to nominate a member to GEE’s Board of Directors. Dave Davis, Chief Executive Officer of GEE, will be CEO of the combined company and Abel Avellan, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of EMC, is expected to serve as GEE’s President and Chief Strategy Officer.
The combined company is expected to benefit from:

  • An expanded addressable market and growth opportunities;
  • Unparalleled global infrastructure to support customer needs;
  • A diversified and balanced revenue mix; and
  • Significant network and operational efficiencies.

“This is a transformative acquisition for GEE that significantly expands our addressable market and accelerates our growth opportunities,” said Davis. “EMC’s verticals collectively represent a multi-billion dollar market opportunity with most growing at an annual rate of approximately 15%. Moving into a highly complementary, adjacent market like maritime leverages our existing infrastructure and suppliers to achieve improved efficiencies and cost savings, and provides valuable cross-selling opportunities for our content, digital media and operations solutions

products. We believe the synergies available through this combination position us well to grow market share, expand our margins, and improve our returns in the years ahead.”

“We are excited to join forces with GEE to create a fast-growing and innovative provider of global mobility connectivity and content services,” said Avellan. “When the transaction closes, GEE will have a broad, diversified revenue base consisting of more than 400 customers around the world. Our combined scale, product breadth, and superior technology will enable us to deliver solutions that are unparalleled in the market today. Whether by sea, air or land, the expectation for access to a superior Internet connection and engaging on-board content is constantly increasing and will continue to drive strong demand for our expanded portfolio of products and services.”

EMC is projected to reach $190-200 million in 2016 revenue and $55-65 million in Adjusted EBITDA in 2016. GEE projects annual synergies of at least $40 million resulting from removing overlap in existing network infrastructure, reduced bandwidth costs, lower development expenses and integrating internal operations. GEE expects to achieve annual synergies of approximately $15 million in 2017 and reach $40 million run-rate by 2019. Costs to achieve the synergies are expected to range from $4 to $5 million over the next 18-24 months.

Serving All Major Mobility Verticals

Founded in 2000, EMC is a leading provider of connectivity solutions globally on both land and sea, with 75% of its revenue derived from maritime-based activities. EMC serves more than 200 customers in over 140 countries and delivers connectivity and content services to all key maritime markets, including cruise lines and ferries, yachts, commercial shipping and energy. Its land-based markets primarily consist of providing mission critical connectivity services for remote offices and sites of non-government organizations (“NGOs”) and fully manage services for wireless operators and carriers in underserved regions around the world.

Following the acquisition of EMC, GEE’s global satellite-based connectivity platform will service more than 700 planes, 1,600 vessels, 100,000 cruise ship cabins, and several thousand land-based sites, creating a leading provider of connectivity and media content to better serve customers in rapidly growing mobility markets. Both companies have a well-established track record of driving growth through new customer acquisitions and very high contract renewal rates. In addition, GEE and EMC have jointly provided media content to the maritime market for a number of years.

Additional Details

The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2016.

GEE was advised by Citi and the law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP. EMC and ABRY were advised by Macquarie Capital and the law firms of DLA Piper and Kirkland & Ellis.